Thai girl from LGBT family honored for fighting discrimination

10/09/2020 10:17 PM
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Image captured from the Garden of Hope Foundation
Image captured from the Garden of Hope Foundation's English Facebook page

Taipei, Oct. 9 (CNA) A teenage Thai girl raised by an LGBT couple was one of the winners of this year's Asian Girl Awards, presented on Friday alongside the Formosan Girl Awards, for her advocacy against discrimination via media and online platforms.

Siriwan Pornin, an 18-year-old girl from Thailand, won an Asian Girl Award in the Human Rights category and was selected as this year's Asian Girl Ambassador.

According to the Garden of Hope Foundation (GOH), the event's organizer, Siriwan was raised by an LGBT couple and suffered discrimination and bullying because of that while growing up.

She was also banned from traveling overseas as her mothers' union was not legally recognized by the law, the foundation said in a book detailing the awards and award winners.

Siriwan has spoken out for children of similar backgrounds through media and online platforms since she was 14 and became a volunteer of the Sangsan Anakot Yawachon Development Project, a group focused on family welfare and gender issues, in 2018, the foundation said in the book.

"Her advocacy is not only beneficial to all children of rainbow families in Thailand but also globally," according to the foundation.

In a short video message played at the award ceremony in Taipei, Siriwan thanked the foundation for the award, which she said will encourage her to continue working to empower girls and LGBT families.

Oyunbileg Bazar, a 19-year-old girl in Mongolia, won this year's Community Development award.

According to the foundation, Bazar initiated the Buried Life -- Empowering Future Women Project to provide knowledge and hope to communities and disadvantaged people through technology.

A team of girls from Japan, the Philippines and Nepal won the Social Innovation award for working on an app called "SafeBuddy," which was designed to help prevent sexual harassment.

The foreign winners of the awards were not able to receive their awards in person due to the travel restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, at the 18th Formosan Girl Awards, a total of 15 girls were honored in five categories -- Community Development, Courage and Adventure, Special Creativity, Math and Technology, and Sports, and another was given a special award.

Shen Li-chien. CNA photo Oct. 9, 2020
Shen Li-chien. CNA photo Oct. 9, 2020

Shen Li-chien (沈利倩), who lost her right leg at a very young age due to illness, was one of the winners of the Courage and Adventure award, for her determination to overcome physical disabilities in pursuing outdoor sports and activities.

In a statement, Wang Yue-hao (王玥好), the foundation's CEO, lauded all of the winners for their passion for life and the actions they took to change their lives.

"Whether it was an illness or a disadvantaged family background, the girls transformed the challenges they faced into opportunities for growth," Wang said.

"They refused to be defined by labels other people put on them. Instead, they let their outstanding performances tell the world: success is not determined by one's background," she said.

The awards ceremony was held in advance of "Taiwan Girls' Day," which was established in 2013 and falls annually on October 11.

The foundation first held the Formosan Girl Awards in 2003 to highlight achievements of girls and to raise social awareness of girls' empowerment. It later created the Asian Girl Awards to honor girls from other countries in Asia.

(By Emerson Lim)

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